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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, December 2009 - Column 1


   Unlike the urban legend about crocodiles residing in the NYC sewage system, the crocodile caught inside the Tze'alim Training Base in the western Negev was real ...although the soldier who captured the creature thought it was merely an oversized land lizard common in Israel, until he spied the set of signature teeth. The Nature Preservation Society captured the ‘infiltrator'. But, soon afterward another croc was found in the vicinity, flattened by a passing car. When a third was reported within one year - this time a 1.3 meter-long (4.3 foot-long) specimen placidly swimming in kibbutz Tze'alim's sewage-treatment pool - that was the last straw, but not the last croc.*
   All three came from a reptile farm nearby, run by Mike and Tzipora Van Harbenvolk...who are now in Dutch with authorities on suspicion of not reporting their latest loss. Within a year's time the crocodile would have grown into a 3-meter (10 foot) monster, residing a mere 300 meters (a thousand yards) from kibbutz members' houses.
   Nature wardens gave the 10 kilo (22 lb.) lizard a new lease on life - turning it over to a nearby zoo, rather than returning it to the farm to be turned into a Hermes handbag.

* Two more specimens have subsequently been captured...and they may not be the last lizards lurking in the vicinity.


   Businesspeople worldwide rack their brains for ways to ‘enhance the shopping experience' and attract customers. But a new discount supermarket chain that caters to an ultra-religious clientele called "Big Zol" came up with a genuinely unique come-on: They established a small synagogue next to the checkout lanes at a newly-opened store -Torah scroll, arch and all - so male shoppers wouldn't feel rushed or compelled to leave when it comes time to say their afternoon or evening prayers.

* zol = cheap


   By the time a group of young North American immigrants exited Ben-Gurion Airport, at least one* of the 204 passengers on the special Nefesh ve-Nefesh** ‘singles flight' found herself spoken-for even before she claimed her bags or passed through customs.
   The lucky lass was Dana Nachama Simon (21) from Missouri. The fast-working groom-to-be was her Israeli boyfriend Jack Taylor (22). Rather than wait patiently at the Arrivals Hall like everyone else, Taylor weaseled his way into the processing room for new immigrants to pop the question ...but not before Dana received her te'udat oleh - certifying her status as an Israeli immigrant. He said he wanted to make the proposal "as an Israeli to an Israelis"...before slipping an engagement ring on her finger. But, since Taylor is presently engaged in fulfilling his military service in the IDF, the Big Day will have to wait.
   The story, published in Yediot Aharonot back in September, sparked an avalanche of requests from Israeli singles eager to meet the other 203 singles on the flight... So, Nefesh-ve-Nefesh has cranked up its matchmaking capabilities by collaborating with J Date. The Jewish ‘mating website' will allow Israelis who want to meet eligible Americans and Canadians on the December ‘singles flight' to line up and sign up at But only the unattached newcomers will have access to check out the pool of potential Israeli mates and make the first move after moving to Israel.

* By November 31st the newspaper was carrying the photos of five more new immigrants from the September flight who were already ‘coupled up'.

** An organization in North America that assists Jews - organizationally and financially - to actualize their desire to immigrate to Israel


   Even nature has its own wallflowers:
   Bees shun apple orchards, preferring to gather nectar from yummy wildflowers that bloom at the same time, leading to spotty pollination and low apple yields. Luckily, ‘busy as a bee' carries a rider: Israeli researchers discovered that during the first two days when worker bees at a new hive first venture forth to gather nectar, they stick close to home; only afterward do they spread out to find the choicest pickings - regardless of the commute. Strategically placing several new hives plum in the middle of an apple orchard before letting the bees out works miracles - doubling yields from three to six metric tons of apples per dunam.

*quarter acre


   Lifting a painting off the walls of a museum is quite a feat, but what about original art adorning the hall of a major public hospital?
   All it takes is pure chutzpa.
   Hospital staff were puzzled when a huge* oil painting vanished from the walls of a well-trafficked corridor at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital, but before they could canvas the hospital for the missing canvas, another large painting by another well-known Israeli artist disappeared... then another canvas 24 hours later. Security cameras revealed that the same middle-aged woman had nonchalantly taking down each oil and coolly walking out the front door - no questions asked. The works were recovered hanging in the Givatyim flat of a 54 year-old caregiver of a recently-hospitalized elderly woman.
   From the looks of it, the ‘visitor' will probably be back in Ichilov pretty soon - no doubt, hospitalized for observation.

* 80 x 120 cm (32" x 48") canvases!


* Copyright© 2009 by Daniella Ashkenazy. All rights reserved worldwide. For limited usage, see FAQs. All stories are completely rewritten by Daniella Ashkenazy from news items gleaned from Yediot Aharonot, unless another news source is stated.